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This $49 power bank I always keep in my car has a jump-starting superpower

Describe what's shown in the image.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

ZDNET’s key takeaways

  • The AstroAI 2000A 12V jump starter is available from Amazon for $49.
  • It’s easy to use, has a bright, clear display, and is powerful enough for over a dozen jump starts.
  • There’s no USB-C output port.

Right now, it’s summer, and car batteries are at their best. The weather is warm, and there’s no ice, frost, or snow. Give it a few months, and you’ll soon find out whether your car battery is ready for another winter.

If you’re lucky, your car might falter in the morning when you’re at home, or somewhere you can get emergency roadside assistance. If you’re unlucky — and it’s always worth planning for when luck is not on our side — your car will decide to die at night when it’s cold and wet.

Also: The best power banks you can buy: Expert tested

This is why it’s always good to be ready to help yourself (or others, as most of the time I need a jump starter, it’s for somebody else’s vehicle). In short, I think the AstroAI 2000A 12V jump starter belongs in every car’s glove box or trunk. 

View at Amazon

AstroAI 2000A 12V jump starter tech specs

  • Capacity: 48.84Wh
  • Peak Output Current: 2,000 amps
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 6.7 x 1.6 inches
  • Output Ports
    USB-A 3.0
    : 5V⎓3A or 9V⎓2A
    USB-A 2.0: 5V⎓2.4A
    DC: 15V⎓10A
  • Input
    USB-C port
    : 5V⎓2A or 9V⎓2A
  • Recharge Time: 3.5 hours at 9V⎓2A 
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Compatibility: 7.0L gas/3.0L diesel 12V engines

I’m old enough to remember when car jump starters were huge, heavy devices containing lead-acid batteries. Actually, I can remember when we jump-started cars using jumper cables. Things have moved on, and now you can get a device that’s a substitute for your car’s battery that’s not much bigger than a power bank.

Since most people don’t need to jump-start cars all the time, this device is primarily a big power bank. It features two USB-A ports for charging devices and a DC output where you can attach a car 12V socket to power devices, such as car vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, and tire compressors.

Outputs and the input for charging.

Outputs and the input for charging

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

There’s a USB-C port built into the jump starter, although it’s only used to charge the device. That’s a shame because USB-C is now pretty much the standard everywhere, and charging modern devices with USB-A is slow. That said, having USB-C to charge the jump starter is a huge advantage over devices that still use micro USB.

Also: This powerful power bank is perfect if you charge a lot of devices

At the end of the jump starter, there’s a compass. While I’m not sure what I’d use it for, the compass does sort of point north, which is a nice change from some of the others I’ve seen built into things like power banks.

The compass.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

No jump starter would be complete without an LED flashlight, and this one offers four modes: flashlight, strobe, SOS, and flashing red warning lights. It’s a neat feature, especially when trying to jump-start your car at night in the rain.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The LCD is big, clear, and easy to read at night and in bright sunshine, giving you a quick view of what the jump starter is doing.

Around the display are three tactile buttons that turn the jump starter on, the flashlight on, and the boost mode on. There’s also a light that shows when the jump starter is being charged.

LED display and buttons.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The main purpose of the jump starter is, as the name suggests, to jump-start vehicles with a dead battery. Can the AstroAI 2000A do this? You bet it can. I tested the device several times and found that each jump-start took about 5% off the battery life. If I switched to boost mode, needed if the car battery is severely depleted, each start took about 10%.

Also: Is car charging destroying your iPhone?

Everything about the jump starter is nice, easy, and straightforward, which is exactly what you need because, as I mentioned earlier, chances are you won’t use your jump starter on a bright sunny day. It’s likely to be dark, cold, and wet, so the more straightforward the device, the better.

The  AstroAI 2000A 12V jump starter in action.

The AstroAI 2000A 12V jump starter in action

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The process is simple. Connect the jump leads to the jump starter, attach the crocodile clips to the appropriate terminals on your car’s battery, power up the jump starter, and start your vehicle as you normally would. When you’re done, you can pack everything in a handy little pouch, ready for the next time you need the device. 

ZDNET’s buying advice

The AstroAI 2000A 12V jump starter is a neat, easy-to-use, yet powerful piece of kit. For $49, it’s hard to go wrong. Whether you want to charge your phone or start your car, this jump starter is up to the job. All you need to do is open your car’s hood, find your car’s battery, and the jump starter will guide you through the rest.

This device epitomizes what an emergency tool should be. This jump starter is something you can use day-to-day to charge your smartphone and tablet, rather than something you throw into the trunk and forget about until your car breaks down. 

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